Rezoning for Oak Hammock Reserve, a 40-acre, 110-unit single-family housing development planned for the intersection of South Spring Garden Avenue and West Beresford Road, was approved by the DeLand City Commission Aug. 2.
The development got its first thumbs-up just two weeks ago before the City Commission July 19. Since it was last approved, the project has been updated to specifically include Florida-friendly plants in future housing lots as well as the subdivision’s common areas.
Like the last time it came before the City Commission, when faced with a decision about whether to approve or deny the planned development’s rezoning, some city commissioners compared it to the current zoning for the 40-acre plot of land.
In 2007, the DeLand City Commission approved a different Oak Hammock Reserve, this one with 105 single-family homes and less green space and other amenities.
City Commissioner Charles Paiva said, while not a huge fan of the current development, it was an improvement over what was already on the books.
“The reason I voted for it last time and will vote for it now, is because … you could have 105 homes but it was spread apart the entire parcel,” he said. “With this current iteration, we protect a bundle of trees that does not get touched, keeps the corridor open, increases green space … This is a better project than the one that is currently allowed with us doing nothing.”
City Commissioner Chris Cloudman wasn’t so sure the new development was so much better than the original, though. Taking time to read through some of the 2007 Oak Hammock Reserve environmental considerations, he said he would like to see some of that in the new development.
Oak Hammock Reserve applicant Sarasea LLC’s attorney, Joey Posey of Glenn Storch P.A., was agreeable about continuing to implement ideas provided by the city staff.
“This isn’t the final step, either,” Posey said. “There’s still a site plan, there’s still a subdivision plat. … There’s other opportunities, and folks have mentioned some things that maybe we can do with some low-impact plantings out in the community for this project. I do appreciate the input and how much thought has gone into drafting this agreement and working with staff. … We want to do this the right way, too.”
Posey agreed to include language in the PD agreement, or planned development agreement — basically the development’s bible that will be followed when construction plans are drawn up — to implement low-impact development standards, like more environmentally friendly stormwater infrastructure, where possible on-site.
Because, as City Attorney Darren Elkind pointed out, “As I’ve told you so many times for so many years for so many things, if it’s not in the PD agreement, then we do not have the ability to require it.”
There wasn’t much public commentary specifically about Oak Hammock Reserve, but Stetson University professor of environmental science Dr. Wendy Anderson, a Beacon columnist and outspoken environmental activist, spoke about what Oak Hammock Reserve could represent if done well.
“I realized that as a very small project, there was an opportunity here to use it as sort of a training wheels for actually trying out some low-impact development and Florida-friendly not just plantings, but principals,” she said. “In the last two weeks, I have had some conversations with Mr. Posey, and we have had some really interesting exchanges about the possibilities for this site.”
Anderson said that while she would have liked the project not to happen at all, she is looking forward to working with Posey to ensure it becomes the best it can be.
While not specific to Oak Hammock Reserve, another public commenter, Jack Davis, was among speakers decrying DeLand development more generally.
“The problem the people of DeLand have with these developers is you are letting them exploit this town and leaving the people that live here holding the bag,” he said. “To them, DeLand is just another profit center. For us, it is home.”
Davis passed flyers out to City Commission meeting attendees attacking DeLand’s continued growth and urging individuals to visit his website, www.smartgrowthdeland.com.
The rezoning for Oak Hammock Reserve was approved at its second reading by the City Commission on a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Bob Apgar and City Commissioners Charles Paiva and Kevin Reid in favor. City Commissioners Chris Cloudman and Jessica Davis voted against the project’s rezoning. The planned development passed through its first reading with the very same parties for and against it.
The next stage for Oak Hammock Reserve is platting, or bringing construction plans before the city.
Make sure to keep up with The Beacon for updates about when Oak Hammock Reserve next comes before the public.